Saturday, April 30, 2016

Isn't She Lovely...

                             
                Isn't she lovely...
                Isn't she wonderful...
                Isn't she precious...
                Less than one minute old...
                            -Stevie Wonder



Please watch this performance by Stevie Wonder before reading this post~

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp0Oh6Ckh1M

She's here... Annora Grace is really here. 

After a very difficult pregnancy, where Amy was on modified bed rest and then bed rest for much of the time, ... she is here. 

After many hours of labor, a very difficult c-section and Annora being in the NICU with breathing problems... she is here.

Tears stream down my face when I just say her sweet name.

She is here. By the grace of God, she is here.

And we are all just so, so, so grateful.

Grateful to God for sustaining us during this time. Grateful that He was there in that c-section with our precious daughter.

Grateful to God that He was there in the NICU with our sweet new granddaughter.

Grateful to God for answering the hundreds and hundreds of prayers prayed for Amy and Annora all these many months.

Grateful to God for watching over us all during this very tough and miraculous time.

Grateful to God for every doctor and nurse who took such good
care of Amy and Annora.

Grateful to God for the best family ever who tag-teamed hours of support at the hospital during such a hard and scary time.

And we are so proud and in awe of our amazing daughter, Amy...
for her unselfishness in spending months in inactivity so Annora would be born healthy.

All eight pounds, 15 ounces of healthy.

And we are so grateful to every one of you who love us and have prayed along side us all these months. There just are not words to adequately express how grateful Bert and I are for your steadfastness, care and encouragement. We love you more than words could ever express.

Last Saturday we were at Sacred Heart in the midst of Amy's labor and this Saturday I am sitting crying and drinking coffee with the biggest smile on my face.

Stevie Wonder, you are so, so right! Isn't she lovely, isn't she wonderful...

Yes, she is!! Pictures will follow, I promise :)

God Bless!
Love, Linda and Bert


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Sting of Betrayal...

                                 
                                    
                   "Let Me control your mind. The mind is the most
                restless, unruly part of mankind...though my
                blood has fully redeemed you, your mind is the last   
                bastion of rebellion. Open yourself to My radiate
                presence, letting My light  permeate your thinking.
                When my spirit is controlling your mind, you are
                filled with Life and Peace."
                                                             Jesus Calling, April 21st

It has been quite a week, one that has me reeling and spinning.
It hasn't been easy, yet some weeks are just like that. Jesus never promised easy, He promised hard. Well, He kept that promise.

All of the minute details don't matter. The gist is this: I am a club advisor at the college were  I teach.  Outside of class, I work with a group of students to help them develop communication skills and leadership skills. In the past week, things have gone south with one of the people in that group. In the midst of a huge project she has created drama and said and done hurtful things. Many of these "things" have been directed at me.

I have asked God to guide me as I deal with this individual, yet
as the truth has unraveled, and I see the destruction of what she has said and done, I am left speechless.

Speechless is not often a stage I go through. 

I am having trouble making sense of her rancor and the venom she is spewing. It feels like such a betrayal to her fellow officers. It feels like a betrayal to me.

I recognize that hurt people, hurt people and she is a very hurt person who is hurting other people. Yet it still stings.

I had a hard time sleeping last night as I will be in a meeting with her today. My mind was reeling. I am asking God to guide me. I am asking God that the words of my mouth be acceptable in His sight.
I am asking God to help this student. She is one of His beloved children no matter how toxic her behavior might be.

I am asking God to control my mind and permeate my thinking with His holy presence, just as it says in Jesus Calling this morning.

And in the midst of tossing and turning, it came to me. The "it" was God's wisdom. I could almost hear His voice and it said oh so clearly-
                      pray for her, pray for her, Linda. 

It also said, "Turn off your mind on this subject and turn your mind over to me."

I want to remember the wisdom in Jesus Calling that I read this morning...
                  "Open yourself to My radiate Presence, 
                  letting My light permeate your thinking."

           
Could I ask you to please pray for my hurting student?
Could I ask you to please pray that the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart would be acceptable in His sight!!

Thank you for your prayers!
God Bless!
Love, Linda




    

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Death ends a life, not a relationship...

                               Death ends a life,
                  not a relationship.
                                  -Morrie Schwartz, Tuesdays with Morrie
            
Yesterday was a bright and sunny day in Spokane, the kind of day you long for all winter long. The air was a bit brisk, just enough so that you might wear a sweater or light jacket. The sun was out in dibs and dabs and big white clouds floated by.

I had the feeling those puffy, white marshmallow floaters were looking down on us and smiling as if they chuckled at all of the scurrying activity that goes along with the first signs of a real spring.

No one can truly understand how that inkling of warm weather is celebrated unless you have had a real winter. And here in Spokane we have about five months of cold and chill and ice and snow and freezing. Brrrrrrr.

Yet no matter how much I tried to tried to embrace all of the optimism of a beautiful day, my heart was just so heavy. Yesterday was my dear friend Donna Phinney's memorial service. Not only that, another friend from the college is going through some brutal and public humiliation, and I have been keeping him in my prayers almost minute-by-minute.

As I drove up to the north side, espresso in hand, I listened to my Casting Crowns CD. That's my go-to music every morning as I head to go teach at the college. It's such a clear reminder of God's presence in the midst of earthly chaos.

As always, I was ahead of schedule since I just hate, and I do mean hate, being even close to late. I'm an early bird, really.

I'm so old fashioned as to believe that if you are right on time, to the second, you are really kind of late. So as I meandered up to the north side, I took a familiar road, a comforting one really. The memorial service was not far from where my oldest daughter lives so it's almost like my car knew the way automatically.

And then I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a small bakery and coffee shop by a gas station, a sight I recognized and had been in maybe once. I had no intention of stopping, even though I had extra time.

Yet a nudging started in my heart, almost a whisper to go in there. I fought with that familiar nudging (God's whisper) and then said aloud, "Okay, I'll go in. I have no idea why you want me to go in there." (said with just a tad of sarcasm to the good Lord Almighty.) A kind of "I'll follow your leadings, but I don't have to like it" moment.

As long as I was there, I thought I'd get some chocolate and butterscotch muffins for Bert, use the restroom and then head to the memorial service, lickety-split. No delays, just a quick stop.

As I left the restroom, walking at a good clip headed to my car with muffins in hand, I heard a voice call out my name. I turned, almost like I had been distracted, and there he was...with his wife and friends, looking oh so sad. My friend from the college who has been publicly humiliated.

And God stopped me in my tracks. I immediately went to their table, threw my arms around Mike and gave him a huge hug, and told him I had been praying for him this very morning. He introduced his wife and friends and explained to them that out of his hundreds of colleagues, I was the only one who had come to see him after it all hit the fan. I felt sort of embarrassed as he said that.

You see I remembered the moment exactly. I was walking by his classroom and got another "nudging" from God. I listened and went in, not knowing how much it would mean to Mike.

Isn't it AMAZING how God works!!

So here at this coffee shop we had a brief conversation and Mike asked what I was doing on the north side. I told him about Donna's memorial service and that I had felt "led" to come into the coffee shop, a nudging from God for sure.

After meeting everyone at the table, I left to get in the car, get to the church and be a part of celebrating the life of my very dear friend. Yet during the drive to the church I talked out loud to God...apologizing for my "how could you bother me to go in there?" attitude and thanking Him for being my wonderful Father. I also told Him that I felt so sad to come to this service to say goodbye to my dear friend, Donna.

And almost as if He was actually sitting in the seat next to me and nudging me again, a quote from one of my favorite books, Tuesdays with Morrie, came floating by my mind and heart, just like those beautiful and full clouds I saw this morning.

           "Death ends a life, Linda, not a relationship."

Donna was physically gone, she had gone home to Jesus.
Yet she was as real in my heart as if I could pick up a phone and call her. Maybe even more real.

I have that same comforting feeling about my dear Mama who went to be with God. She is gone physically gone, which is so, so hard, but her spirit is right there with me... all the time. I talk to her just like I did when she was here. I tell her, "Oh Mom, you would have loved to see how the grandkids were at  the Easter egg hunt at our house."

As I arrived at the church, and pulled into a parking lot filled with cars, I took a deep breath and said a prayer. "Be with me God, please be with me." And He was. I walked into that memorial service feeling full of God's love and at peace, really at peace. His peace that is beyond all earthly understanding.

Several hours later I left the memorial service and came home to have a cup of coffee with my beloved Bert. We took our java to our favorite old-fashioned swing in our backyard.

It's our favorite place to talk.

I told Bert how sad I had been about both Mike and Donna and that I felt like God, in His grace, had really ministered to my heart during that whole car ride, the coffee shop, and then the memorial service. Bert just smiled and took my hand. He's wise that way, my honey is.

And without a pause Bert whispered, "Death ends a life, honey, not a relationship," and my tears just started to flow and run down my face in buckets. Sometimes it takes a message repeated time and time again for me to really hear the meaning. How grateful I am that God is so patient in helping me know His truth for me.

Yes, God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good.

God Bless!
Love, Linda





Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hope and Fear... and Thanks To God, Hope Wins Out

                                     Fear less,
                         hope more.

The past almost nine months my heart has been in my throat.
Our precious daughter, Amy, has been pregnant and this has not been an easy pregnancy, not easy at all. Her doctor called it a "high risk pregnancy," high risk to Amy and high risk to her precious daughter, Annora Grace.

Annora is my granddaughter, and I get very teary every time I call her name. It's as if her name is a prayer, a calling to God Almighty. Please God, let them both be okay.

I have been so touched, down in my deepest heart-of- hearts, by the gift so many of you have given us... your love, your caring and most importantly, your prayers. Thank you Vicky. Thank you Jackie. Thank you Peggy. Thank you Myia. Thank you Sharon. Thank you church family. Thank you to all of you who have lifted up Amy and Annora, lifted our family up.

What I know for sure is that God hears them all...all of those prayers. Your prayers. My prayers. He asks us to pray. And He asks us to trust Him, no matter what. 

No matter how hard it gets. He is in the midst of the hard and the very hard.

Amy is on almost full bed rest. She has been the most amazing trooper, following the doctor's orders...and there have been so many of them. Most amazing to me, is that she hasn't complained. She constantly reminds me that God has got this. This is His plan and that good will come out of this, no matter how it goes.

I know that. I do. But honestly, I am scared, fear-filled at times. Not sleeping well and when I wake up, I keep praying.

And I am HOPE-filled. Every time fear takes over, for even a second, HOPE rushes in. His hope. His love. His message that All is Well...no matter what.

Hope wins out over fear when we give our lives to God, truly surrender them to Him. When we can say, without reservation, "I trust YOU, Lord, with this. Help me to hope in you."

After all, He told me that "Faith, hope and love, these three. And the greatest of these is love." Yes it is, His love is greater than anything and it surrounds Amy and it surrounds Annora Grace.

It is not long now until labor and delivery will take place, days really. At the most a week. Could I ask you to pray with me for Amy and Annora. Could you ask others to pray that God might do a miracle and bring them both through this...

May His will be done!
I'll keep you posted!
God Bless!
Much love, 
Linda


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Happy 32nd Anniversary!



You have my whole heart for my whole life!

Happy Anniversary, my honey. I love you with my whole heart. Thank you for all of these 32 wonderful years of deep love and friendship and fun and laughter. Thank you for your loyalty and
keeping every vow. Thank you for sending me off to school by throwing me a kiss and a "Praise the Lord!" Thank you for listening and wiping away my tears. Thank you for loving me enough to tell me the truth and for holding my hand as I changed.
Thank you for your kindness... for every day making me feel loved and beautiful. Thank you for your unselfishness, like last Sunday spending four hours after church cleaning the desks in my classroom. Who does that kind of thing and thanks me for how fun it is to do everything with me, even cleaning? You are my sunshine, the love of my life and you reminded me when I had a broken heart, years and years ago, and thought I would never marry again, that true love was possible, especially if God was in the center of our lives.



















Thank you for sticking it out through every conflict we had, for being honest, for listening and compromising and for teaching me that it's truly okay to disagree. We would be stronger with each conflict we resolved. You were so right, dear Bert...we are!

Thank you for your listening ear and for helping me process my life lessons. Thank you for being a person of integrity who says what he means and means what he says. Thank you for your fierce loyalty to me and our family. Thank you for being so trustworthy and only having eyes for me. Thank you for helping my broken heart heal. Thank you for loving the girls and being a great Papa to them. Thank you for being a cheerleader for our grandchildren. It is so much fun to grandparent with you.

Thank you for going to church with me and putting your arm around me during the sermon. It brings tears to my eyes each time you do that. Thank you for always encouraging me to be all that God meant me to be. Thank you for reminding me how much I am loved by my Heavenly Father. I am so blessed and honored, my sweetie, to share my life with you!!

I am so very grateful every day that I get to spend that day with you, Bops,  even more grateful after I almost lost you in October. What I know for sure, even more than before, is that I cherish you and our time together, no matter how long it is.

I'll love you forever, my darling! Happy Anniversary!!
Your Nans



Saturday, April 02, 2016

Why Do I Blog and What in the World Does a Blog Have to Do With God?


                       The bravest thing you will ever do
                       is to share your own story."
                                                           - Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
                  
                                                     

Someone recently asked me why I had a blog. The usual questions followed. What did I get out of writing it? Who was it for? And perhaps asked most importantly, was I uncomfortable in being so personal?

You see the wonderful, young and bright college student who asked these questions, Janelle, had been googling my name on ratemyprofessors.com. She wanted to take a class from me and wanted to find out how other students experienced me as a teacher. In her exploration process she also found this blog, Live Every day As If It Was Your last.

Quite politely, and in deep respect, she caught me after a conference at the college that we mutually attended. 

I could tell she was a bit tentative and nervous, and she wondered if in asking these questions about blogging she was pressing too far into my life away from the college. However her curiosity won out over her shyness as she wanted to know more about me. 

She mentioned, in our initial introduction, that quite by accident she stumbled onto my blog. She said she was fascinated at how complex and yet simplistic I was. I smiled at her knowing that this perceptive young lady was a lot like me. Curious, wanting to learn and know more. Wanting to get past the surface trivia about folks and get into who they really are. What makes them tick? What is their story?

After Janelle bravely put forth her question, I asked her if she wanted to meet at our Student Union Building in the Bistro, the coffee shop, and share a cup of java and some time to talk. She lit up like a Christmas tree and said, "Oh yes, you would do that? I just met you at this conference your club at the college was putting on." I told her that young minds eager to learn, made my day. The coffee would be on me.

So after hearing a bit about her, she instinctively shifted the spotlight on me, paraphrased each of the three questions she had asked and then expectantly paused. She was waiting, almost with baited breath.

So I started with the easiest question first:

Why write a blog? I told Janelle that I am an extrovert who processes everything. Some of that processing, and seeking to understand what the life lessons are in almost each life event, is just in my nature. I am curious. I love learning. I am a teacher and a student of life itself. That's how God made me so in trying to understand and process I do three things.

First, I pray about what is going on. What does the God I know and love and serve have to say about this? I read the Bible. I read Jesus Calling, and I put my life lessons and questions and wonderings in the Almighty hands of the One who made me. I listen for His answers to the questions I ask Him. I pay attention to His nudgings on my heart. 

Second, I talk out loud about the life lessons that are on my plate. I usually sort it out verbally with my beloved husband Bert or my daughter Amy. What am I supposed to learn? How am I feeling? I can even be found to process out loud when I am by myself in the car or in the garden. I talk to God out loud and silently. This "sifting" process gives me clarity and intentionality. What am I supposed to learn from this, whatever it is?

Finally, I get my computer out, pour myself a cup of coffee, and say a prayer."Let the words of my mouth and  the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer!"
And then I start to type, led by God's spirit. Almost always after writing it all out I have a new understanding and new "aha!" that gets reflected.

After sharing about point #1, Janelle looked a little stunned and then asked question #2. 

Who was this for? I said that initially I wrote for myself and hoped that at some point my family and grandchildren might read it. I was writing a blog because of God's leading to do so, but also to leave a legacy of who I am and what I believe for my grandchildren. I wanted them to know about more than just my surface level accomplishments and mistakes. Who was their Nana really? How did I feel about God? What were my priorities and values?
The fact that others are interested as well, and that I have made special friends through blogging, is just such an amazing and unexpected gift from God.

And finally Janelle asked even more tentatively, 
Are you uncomfortable being so "out there," being so personal? I told her that I had promised myself in writing this blog that it would be honest, respectful and authentic. Congruent, if you will. It had to be personal for my family and grandkids to really know who I was. I also let her in on a secret. The older I have gotten, the more comfortable I am with just being me. If I am respectfully authentic and transparent, then I have been true to myself, the me God means me to be.

After covering that ground, Janelle asked one more thing. She looked even more hesitant to bring this up. "Do you know that you mention God a lot on your blog?" she asked. I smiled and said that since God was in my heart, in my soul and was my Savior that it just seemed right to talk about Him like I talk about all of the other important people in my life.
I said, looking right at her as if she was my own child, "He is everything to me. His love has changed my whole life for the better. My greatest goal in life is to know God, love God and serve Him in this world" And just so you know, I exclaimed, "He loves you too."

And right there, in that SCC Bistro, Janelle and I talked about Jesus, about who He is to me and who He could be for her. She asked if we might meet again to talk more about God.  I said, trying not to smile too broadly, that of course I would love to do that.

I knew, then I really knew, why God had whispered in my heart to write a blog and share what was in my heart.

I feel so grateful that I listened to His whisper!

God Bless!
Love, Linda








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